October 5, 1930 - Current
WILL TAKES A HISTORY LESSONWell all I know is just what I read in the papers, and what I get through the mail. Arthur Brisbane and I have been having a good natured kidding through the papers about Russia.1 Arthur kinder believes that Russia should be recognized, and me I don’t know whether they should or not. Lords, that’s a Diplomat’s business not mine. I am not getting Diplomatic wages. I am only getting acting wages. They are in a position to do quite a little trade with us, so if you want to base everything on a purley dollar and cents basis why we better not only recognize ’em but go out and look for ’em.
But then we know that they spend a great deal of money on propaganda to ferment revolution, and that nothing would be so welcome to them as to read some day where everybody that had a clean shave and more than $2.50 cents had been blown up with a bomb, why then you kinder wonder if it’s good to deal with folks that don’t wish you any better than that. But that’s got nothing to do with it, what I am getting at is the interesting letters this fellow Brisbane writes. I am going to show you one he wrote me that I just got yesterday. I don’t think he will mind me publishing this, it’s personal, but not too personal for me to collect my weekly fee on, especially when it is better by far than anything I could write.
My Dear Rogers,Now wasent that a fine letter. You know he is a great fellow. I wish you all could know him personally, along with his uncanny grasp of things he has got a lot of humor, there is many a sly laugh imbedded in his sermons on many subjects. Now he is sincere about this Russia thing too. He does know enough about it to know that they are going somewhere, and we better watch out while they are on the way. I think on the other hand that he has kinder been Propagandered on ’em, and he has perhaps got the brighter side, for they were a pretty seedy looking outfit when I visited them in 1926. Course they might have changed a lot. We have. Nobody would ever thought we would be walking on our uppers to have looked at us in 26. Why we had a gold mine and thought it couldent run out. Now he is a smart man, and I am going to take his advice, and really give a little more serious thought and time to see what they really are doing, for Lord knows we all want to see ’em make it go, for if they can make it better for everybody, instead of just for a few why they will have practically revolutionized the World. But all that Cato, and Carthage, and Persia, and Greece, and Macedonia, and Louie the sixteenth, and “Rein” and all that was lost on me. He was getting a long way from Russia telling about all those old Birds. But the Rascal can quote anything. And I guess he is right, anyhow I havent got time to look it up. Any man as high salaried and busy as he is, that will sit down and take his valuable time to write my Sunday article for me, I am not going to find any faults with it as to facts. I will disagree with him every day if he will write my articles for me. Anyhow if I ever answer him, I can’t talk about those old fellows. I will have to refer him to, Senator Grundy, Al Capone, Tom Heflin, Aimee, and just the ones that I know.4 But anyhow Arthur, I am much obliged to you, and I will take care of Russia from now on.
Now that I have established your credit as a multi-millionaire, and that you have destroyed mine by making me out in the public prints as destitute, which by the way I regret to say is an extremely accurate description, let us talk seriously about Russia. This Country including its brightest intellects, even your own, fail to appreciate the importance of what is going on in Russia.
You know that when Louie the sixteenth came back from shooting at Fontainebleau on a certain 14th of July he wrote in his diary “Rein,” meaning in the French language, “Nothing.” He hadent shot anything, and he simply wrote down that nothing had happened. But that was the 14th of July on which the Bastlie was destroyed, and later as a consequence of that “Rein” day, they just casually chopped off his head.
The King of Persia asked, “Where is Greece?” and said to his royal remembrancer, “Remind me sometime to go down and destroy that little Country.” His descendants learned about Greece when Alexander came from Macedonia with 30,000 men and sent him flying to his death, went through his line of war Elephants and took his Country.
All of which leads up to the fact that Will Rogers should study and analize, and understand Russia, not dispose of it with a wave of a hand like some foolish Wall Street Broker who buys Karensky Bonds and bellyaches because they are not paid.2 We dident pay the bonds issued by the South.
I have no doubt that the Russian experiment will fail eventually, being based on pretense of unselfishness and brotherly love, which have no existence among human beings.
But its experiments in Industry, in world competition, and efficincy may cost some of the old Capatalist civilizations dear, if they ignore it. Alexander’s Empire fell, dwindling down to the Cleopatra and Mark Anthony foolishness, but not until he had put an end forever to the old Persia. So you ought to warn your readers to not underate Russia. Many years ago when you was a little Boy, (Thanks for that kind compliment Arthur) I told Klaw, Erlanger, Frohman and Brady that someday Movies would sweep the country and be in every town.3 They thought I was crazy. Well look and see.
Now you take old Cato with his “Carthage must be destroyed” and keep saying every day at the end of your “piece” in diamond type, “Watch and beware of Russia.” This is talked into my phonograph in my automobile on my way in from Long Island to New York, hence the length.
1For Arthur Brisbane see WA 334:N 5.
2Alexander Feodorovich Kerensky, Russian revolutionary leader who served briefly in 1917 as prime minister in the first revolutionary government; overthrown in November 1917 by the Bolsheviks.
3Marc Klaw, American theatrical producer, active from 1881 until his death in 1936. Abraham Lincoln Erlanger, American vaudeville and theatrical producer; former partner of Klaw. Daniel and Charles Frohman, American theatrical producers and managers. Charles, the younger of the two brothers, became known as “the Napoleon of the Drama.” He lost his life when the Lusitania sank in 1915. William Aloysius Brady, American theatrical and motion picture producer and talent manager; sports promoter.
4For Joseph R. Grundy see WA 332:N 3; for Scarface Al Capone see WA 336:N 9; for Tom Heflin see WA 330:N 3; for Aimee Semple McPherson see WA 344:N 6
IT’S ANOTHER OFF YEARWell all I know is just what I read in the papers. See where Henry Ford is prowling around over in Europe, and he gets tons and tons of mail and it’s addressed to him as “his Highness Henry Ford.” They think he is King over here. Well he is not exactly what you might refer too as one of our menial Subjects. Over in a Museum in Berlin they have the first car made in Germany, and perhaps the World, for it was made in 1885, it only had three wheels. It was the “Benz” made by Karl Benz.1 But up to going to press he has not been able to get it. Germans wouldent take his check I guess. But he did buy two old watches, and a new hat.
Was you ever through that place in Derborn where he has all the old Vehickles stored? If you rode in your young days in old wagon, or sled, or a buggy and have in your old years of reminencing wondered what become of it it’s right in Henry Ford’s shed. I never saw in all my born days as much plunder as there is in there. Old thrashing Machines, dozens of ’em, old saw mill engines, old fire Engines, Old Handsom Cabs. Everything under the sun that ever dragged one person from one place to another is in there, so I can sure imagine how he must have wanted that old crate.
Can you imagine the excitement he must cause over there? For he is the one man in America that they have an idea what he makes and what he does, and I imagine that his retinue is about one half of what a second rate Movie Star would have traveling over there. I doubt if he has a Secretary with him.
Oh yes, and then we just been reading where the Russians turned down some kind of an order of Tractors. If they did turn down that order of a thousand Tractors as we heard they did, (They were Ford Tractors) why I guess that will cut his trip short, for that would be a pretty hard financial blow and he couldent afford to be prowling around over there then, as it was on the profit and expectation of that order that he made the trip.
Well sir before you know it there will be another election along to pester us. What they have those things for nobody has ever been able to tell. It’s just to distribute the jobs around so one man won’t have it all the time. Most of the men that are in are trying to stay in and all that are out are trying to get in. This is what they call an off year. What they mean by that is everybody is running but the President.
These off years the Democrats generally make a pretty good showing, and this fall looks like their chance to get a gang of Guys in the Senate and House. Of course they will offset what advantage they have by splitting among themselves, on the wet and dry plan. They will make that an issue when it’s only a habit.
Funny race up in Massachusetts. They dug up a fellow named Coolidge, an Irishman, and a Democrat.2 He used to be Mayor of Fitchburg, along when Calvin was Mayor of Northampton. They claim the fellow is no kin to Calvin. But I know one time up in Vermont I was playing a town, I think it Rutland or somewhere, and in my audience that night, I had been tipped off was a first Cousin of Cal’s and he was a Democrat, and I had a lot of fun kidding with him. Met him afterwards and he was a dandy fellow. I don’t know how he got strayed off from the herd while they was all going orthadox. He, (this fellow Coolidge) is running against William Butler, an old friend of Mr Calvin Coolidge’s.3
Oh yes and this other Coolidge that’s running is a wet! Imagine a wet Coolidge! Nature does produce some queer angles. Don’t know if Mr Coolidge will take the stump to help out his old friends or not. He is still working on his daily Column and can always say he is too busy. He is mighty schrewd and knows how to keep out of these hometalent fights. New York pretty near everybody is running as a wet. Both Republicans and Democrats know there is more wet votes than there is dry ones so they both jump that way. That shows right there that the whole thing is not on the level, for everyone of these public men come out just according to the way the wind is blowing where they live. Now some of them must have some personal opinion that is not just along with the majority of voters all the time.
New Jersey Morrow took a brave stand when it meant something.4 He wasent sure he was on the right side or not, but he come out against it. Not that it might have been the right thing to do, but it at least planted him as a man with his own opinion and he was willing to stand by it. But with all the messing and argueing over it at the election it won’t mean a thing. Nothing is going to be done about it any more than farm relief, or unemployment relief.
No matter who you elect to go to Washington, that hasent got anything to do with Prohibition, for it has to be repealed by the States, or the men that you don’t send away. Not during any of our lifetime will it be repealed for it takes two thirds of the States, not two thirds of the votes. Arizona could offset a State as big and as thickly settled as New York or Massachusetts.
Ohio they got so scared at their convention, they was afraid to do anything, so they just voted as favoring Prosperity and went home. They have a new term now called the “Weaslers.” The Weaslers are anyone that is afraid to jump either way. They feel that their state is still doubtful and they claim they havent made up their minds. So from now on you are in for one of the longest and most nonsensical arguments, all over something that they couldent change if they wanted too. Democrats will make quite a few gains and the Wets will perhaps make some, but the whole thing will mean nothing in our lives. All we do is just dig up their salary, and they all get the same price, Republican Democrat, Wet, or Dry. There is no way we can win.
1Karl Benz, German engineer and pioneer in the construction of motor-driven vehicles; founder of the automotive firm of Benz & Company.
2Marcus Allen Coolidge, Massachusetts manufacturer and Democratic politician; United States senator from 1931 to 1937. He was not related to President Calvin Coolidge.
3William Morgan Butler, Massachusetts lawyer, textile manufacturer, Republican politician, and former United States senator.
4For Dwight W. Morrow see WA 325:N 8 and WA 389:N 8.
WARS AND RUMORS OF WARSWell all I know is just what I read in the Papers. There is some pretty big stuff in the papers nowadays, but it’s kinder under cover. Did you ever kinder stop to figure it out, this old World of ours as a whole is not sitting so pretty just at the present time. Did you know that there is an awful lot of parts of Europe that is just sitting on what the old time Orator used to call a Powder Keg? Well it is.
We can’t pick up a paper that from one to a hundred don’t prophesy that Prosperity is just around the corner. But let me tell you that war is nearer around the corner than prosperity is. I don’t mean so much for us right here. But I mean over in Europe. That Russia is kicking up an awful lot of dust, and Germany is harboring a terrible lot of dissatisfaction, that Hitler has got ’em all stirred up over there.1 He made a speech last week in which he advocated the breaking of the Versailles Treaty, he said that it was made by a lot of old men, who most of them were about ready to die, and now here was a lot of young men grown up and they had to carry all this burden, for which they were not directly to blame, and that it was only a matter of time till they just wouldent do it. They would say, “Well come on France, what are you going to do about it? We cant be any worse off if you come in and take over our Country than we are now.”
Then those little Balkan Nations, they are like a little mess of stray Terriers anyhow, they just as well be fighting as like they are. This has been about the longest they have ever been between wars. I see the other day where Russia was just on the verge of invading Roumania. They have always had it in for them and figured they only had to take a couple of days rations and rounds of ammunition and go over and take that Country anyhow.
Russia and Poland are always on the verge of war. I remember when I was over in both countries in the summer of 26, why they were growling at each other like a couple of Fat Prima Donas on the same Opera bill. Then Italy is ranting around down there trying to pick up some more country and outlet for their population. France is watching them with an Eagle eye all the time, and that’s just what Mussolini wants, he had rather worry France than anything. France feels that she would have no trouble whipping them, but if she went down there to do it, Germany would take that opportunity to get at them and she just don’t want to have to take the chance. Then the Checko-Slovakians feel kinda hemmed in down their way, and of course the Turks, there is nothing that irks a Turk so much as peace.
Austria, they just been so bad off since the last war that they know there would be no way that war wouldent be welcome to them. Bulgaria has started all the rest of them, her and Serbia, and they don’t want to lose their reputations, they want to go down in history as having started all the big ones.
All this whole mess have no more love for each other than a litter of Hyenas, they either lost or gained territory during the last war, and they feel those that did gain that in another war they could grab off even more, and the ones that lost can’t see how they could possibly make that mistake again, and that if given a chance to play the same hole over again they could make it par the next time. I try to read all that all those old World Diplomats write over there, and there is not a line of it that is not in regard to another war. They just can’t write a prescription without predicting what will happen in the next great war. Their whole minds is on it, and from all that I read of them there is no two that seem to give anywhere near the same possible lineup. It’s like the National and American League if when time come to play the Worlds series they would just take all the players from all the Clubs in their League and then choose up and play the other side. No one knows where the thing will start or with who. No one knows how the line-up will be, for they don’t know who will be fighting who. Some of them that hate Russia like poisen will wait to join her on account of her strength. They will all want to wait and see who looks like the winner. They did that in the last war, quite a few staid out waiting for the best offer. Lots of pretty smart men think that is one of the biggest contributing factors to our present state of economic unrest, is that all big finance is afraid of what will happen in the near future, and they don’t know where it will end up. That’s why everybody is hanging on to what they got. There is more in the wind than just our little local condition over here. We got as much as we ever had, there is just as much money, as many to eat, and as many to feed, as many to buy. But still our conditions are uncertain. Why? Just because it’s things outside our own land that is worrying ’em. They know that signs are not right all over the World. Look at South America. When during our lifetime has there been as many disturbances at one time? No sir the whole thing is world wide, we are effected by it less than anyone.
If we keep our nose clean and don’t start yapping about somebody elses honor, or what our moral obligations are, we might escape it. But it’s going to take better Statesmanship than we have been favored with heretofore. But the way we are now we are mighty lucky to have nothing but a little business depression that is bothering us. But think what those other poor Devils are up against.
1Adolf Hitler, chancellor and Fuehrer of Germany from 1933 until is death in 1945. By 1930 Hitler’s National Socialist (Nazi) party had grown sufficiently to raise a serious challenge to the established German government.